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Report: Cocaine is set to overtake oil to become Colombia’s main export item

Cocaine is on track to surpass oil as Colombia’s primary export, driven by a government crackdown on drug trafficking. According to a Bloomberg report on Thursday (September 14), Colombia’s oil exports saw a 30% decline in the first half of the year, while revenue from cocaine exports continued to rise. This trend suggests that cocaine could become the country’s top export as early as this year.

The report estimated that “cocaine export revenues jumped to $18.2 billion in 2022, not far behind oil exports of $19.1 billion last year.” It highlighted that while the government has been dismantling cocaine laboratories that convert coca leaves into the drug, this has not curtailed production.

Change in government approach to drug trafficking President Gustavo Petro’s administration has shifted Colombia’s strategy regarding drug trafficking. Instead of targeting coca leaf producers, who represent the weakest link in the production chain, the government now focuses on disrupting drug lords who profit more from the overseas sale of narcotics. President Petro has initiated talks with the country’s primary drug-trafficking groups in an effort to end the six-decade-long conflict through peace agreements.

The report noted that the new approach to drugs has facilitated an increase in cocaine production by illegal groups. According to a United Nations report released this week, cocaine production reached a record high of 1,738 tonnes last year, while the area of land planted with coca, the raw material for the drug, increased by 13% to a record 230,000 hectares (570,000 acres) in 2022 compared to the previous year.

Colombia proposes a Latin American alliance against drug trafficking A week ago, President Petro proposed a Latin American alliance to unite the region’s efforts against drug trafficking. During the Latin America and Caribbean Conference on Drugs on September 9, he stated, “It is time to rebuild hope and not repeat the bloody and ferocious wars, the ill-named ‘war on drugs,’ viewing drugs as a military problem and not as a health problem for society.”

President Petro advocated for a reevaluation of the anti-drug strategy and stressed the need for a unified voice “that defends our society, our future, and our history and stops repeating a failed discourse.”


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